SOUVENIR-CHARTERS TOWERS, 1872 TO JULY,
More About the Good Old Days
THE following statements are not guaranteed as being authentic, but are
given by a group of persons,
who, even at this stage, prefer to go under the non-de-plumes of
Mullocky Micky, Hangingwall Herbert and Footwall Phil.-Thasnuf.
'Tis recorded that gold to the value of about :£32,000,000 has
been produced from the Charters Towers Goldfield. No record could
possibly be kept however of a tremendous amount of gold which was never
handled through the usual channels.
The late Mr. L. Marsland, of Marsland and Marsland, well-known
solicitors of fifty years ago, made rather exhaustive
investigations as to what caused the large discrepancy in values
between the gold produced by mills and cyanide works and that bought by
the banks. He published the result of his efforts, and the publication
resulted in much comment and argument. A resume of his findings
appeared about 1930, in one of the last editions of the "Queenslander
The figures quoted below are not, correct, and are purely illustrative
but they are reasonably approximate to those of Mr. Marsland. His
referred to the production of the years 1898 and 1899. For the
purpose of illustration, the year 1900 is chosen, because in
that year Charters Towers was at, or near, its production peak.
The successful extraction of gold from tailings by the cyanide process
was now in full swing, and many thousands of extra ounces of
bullion were produced. During 1900, the batteries and
produced, we'll say, 300,000
ounces, yet the banks in Charters Towers in that year
bought £330,000; a discrepancy of 30,000 ounces after proving a
shortage of about this amount. Mr. Marsland tersely added to his
remarks, "Only some of this gold was sold in Charters Towers."
Since the creation of man, he has generally easily fallen to
temptation. Good little Eve fell very quickly, and, unknowingly, set up
a popular fashion which has persisted through the ages. The Towers
diggers were just as human as their forbears. Some may have had greater
pretentions towards honesty than others, but the sight of a most
malleable metal in a most friable quartz proved a sore trial to
most. Fingers itched and twitched, and seemed to become coated
with bird lime of a most mucilageous consistency. Oh, yes! they fell,
and in numbers, too.
Now, how did this gold get into banks, other than along the usual
legitimate course. The ruses were many and varied.
When gold was free, and it often was, in those days, a few deft hammer
strokes shed the quartz and shaped the metal to a convenient size and
shape. Most miners smoked, pipes, a pennyweight or two could
easily be covered by Derby or Havelock tobacco in a reasonably
capacious bowl. This was considered good beer money. Other miners
with greater tenerity carried larger pieces
under the armpits, between the butocks, in the mouth, in crib
bags, in billy cans, in waterbags, and the red puggy clay used for
holding and sticking the candles to the wall was often a handy hiding
It must be understood, that in those days miners coming off shift
walked into a large bathroom, doffed their working clothes, bathed if
they wished, and, under a watchman's eye, walked into another change
room, and donned their going home clothes. Did this act as a deterrent?
Not at all.
Men more daring, wily and guileful, garnered larger quantities than
those mentioned above. Old timers at present visiting the old Town will
probably become reminiscent, and recollect many of those incidents.